What’s the Big Deal About Core Values Anyway?
“In an age of increasing global and local competition, the ability of an organization to build a culture that attracts and retains talented people is rapidly emerging as the most important criterion for financial success. Executives and employees are searching for organizations that will support them in their personal and professional growth. They want to work for companies that are not only great places to work, but are also socially responsible and embrace sustainable development. They want to feel a sense of alignment between their personal values and their company values. There is significant evidence to suggest that organizations that focus on values alignment are the most successful financially.”
Richard Barrett author of ‘Building a Values-Driven Organization’ (2006)
Core values, alignment, triple bottom line, social responsibility, values-driven business – these are all buzz words popular in business culture today, and they are strategically important to drive business and impact decisions. But if they don’t mean anything to the people who work in the company, their value is little more than the print on the page. Under the pressure of modern day business, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, and that’s why core values are important. They form the foundation – the “centre” if you will – of a company’s business actions and daily decisions. Employees must sense that core values are more than posters on a wall and have a direct relationship to how business is done, or the values will remain flat, unembraced and having little impact.
On a recent blog post in the Harvard Business Review, Tony Hsieh, the American entrepreneur who founded Zappos.com, which was sold of Amazon last year for $US1.18 billion, said that their core values were important to keep the company focused as it grew. In a space of just 10 years, Zappos grew from almost no sales to more than $US1 billion in annual revenue. With this kind of growth you can imagine how challenging it must have been to maintain the business culture across all departments and with all employees. Core values were what drove hiring, informed policies, affected decisions, and maintained the dynamic culture that has made the company what it is today. Zappos employees demonstrates the company’s core values because they understand them, believe them, and clearly see the application to how they do their jobs every day.
At Iridia, we strive to bring our core values alive and at the forefront of business. We encourage employees to think about what they do in the context of those values. We ask questions, make decisions, and conduct business in a way that reflects those values. When they don’t, we want to know about it!
In the next few posts, I will be writing about each of our values and how we live and breathe them in our day-to-day at Iridia. Core values truly do define a company, and alignment between those values and corporate behaviour is an unstoppable dynamic that sets apart the good from the great.